Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cameron Rowe, Oviedo Spain, Spring 2012

Three Americans, two Germans, and a Brit

Last Spring semester I studied abroad in Oviedo, Spain for five months. I got back in June, which means I have now been back for as long as I was away, which is a strange thought for a few reasons. I feel like my time in Spain flew by; it was over in the blink of an eye. At the same time it seems like last semester happened years ago, in some distant past. This may seem contradictory but it goes along perfectly with how I’ve come to see studying abroad.

Exploring Segovia, another part of Spain

Everyone asks me how my semester abroad was, what it was like to live in Spain, and the best way I’ve found to answer that is that “it was everything.” The best I can put it, my experience has been that studying abroad is superlatively everything, always. My semester was invariably the most difficult, most frustrating, most exciting, most overwhelming, fun, uneventful, ridiculous, incredible, trying, and rewarding six months of my young life. And this was all every day. There were no swings from good days to bad—although the culture shock charts they give you are so accurate. 

Annie enjoying chocolate.

As an example, my friend Annie and I had been out for a walk on a rainy Sunday afternoon and after a while we were so cold and wet we decided to stop into a café for a warm drink. We ended up indulging in ourselves in chocolates combinados. I should explain that in Spain they don’t just have hot chocolate like chocolate milk that is warm; they have drinking chocolate which is like melting a delicious chocolate bar and drinking it out of a mug.
 On top of this, even, ours had different flavoring added and whipped cream on top. My point is they were absolutely decadent and delectable and so perfect on this dreary, wet afternoon. However, as we should have known well enough to come to expect, just as we were reflecting on how lovely these treats were, we noticed a pigeon just exploring this café. And what’s more, no one else seemed to notice or care that a dirty bird was just hopping and flittering about around their feet. Spain is the best and the worst. Every experience you have is somehow just so wonderful and so awful at the same time, and it’s difficult to explain this to someone who is not a part of it without sounding like you’re just complaining about everything. You’re really not. I promise, you grow to love and miss the things you hated most. I hated how much it rained and having to make new friends in a second language, the terribly dubbed Spanish TV, the lack of punctuality. But mostly I loved these things and now I just miss them. I know it sounds clichéd but my experience abroad literally changed my life. I can’t believe all the wonderful people I met and things I got to do. It has altered my focus of study, my career path, and my plans for my future. In conclusion, Spain is the worst place in the world and I cannot wait until I can get myself back there.

Utah Girls in the fair city of Oviedo

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